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An akhoond (akhund or akhwand) [1] (Persian: آخوند‎) is a Persian title for an Islamic cleric, common in Iran, Azerbaijan and some parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Standard Chinese word for imam (Chinese: 阿訇; pinyin: āhōng), used in particular by the Hui people, also derives from this term.

Other names for similar Muslim clerics include sheikh and mullah.


Akhoonds are responsible for leading religious services in a community. Akhoonds lead the prayers in the mosques, deliver religious sermons and perform religious ceremonies, such as birth rites and funeral services. They also often teach in Islamic schools known in Iran as hawzas and in other countries as madrasas.[citation needed]

Akhoonds will usually have completed some studies (of varying levels) in a hawzeh, studying various Islamic and non-Islamic subjects such as Sharia, fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), Quran, and basic mathematics. They commonly dress in religious attire.[citation needed]

Old usageEdit

This term was traditionally a slang term in Iran, and it has been completely a derogatory term since the Pahlavi era. In Iran, they are also called mullah, molavi, sheikh, haj-agha, or rohani. The word rohani means "spiritual, holy". Rohani is considered a more polite term for Muslim clerics, used by Iranian national television and radio and by devout Muslim families. Akhoond is increasingly outmoded in Iran, usually with only the older clerics having the title as part of their name. It has not been used widely as a title since the Qajar dynasty.[citation needed]

In Afghanistan, and among the Pashtuns of the Afghan-Pakistan border region, the term is still current in its original sense as an honorific.[citation needed]

Use in personal namesEdit

The Azerbaijani surname Akhundov (as in e.g. Mirza Fatali Akhundov) is formed from the word akhund.

The Bangladeshi surname Akond/Akand (আকন্দ), or Akhond/Akhand (আখন্দ) (as in e.g., Julhaz Akond, Lucky Akhand) is formed from the word akhund.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Akhwand - Names Directory". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-20.

External linksEdit